Everyone has an attachment style. But some people have "flat attachment":
they are incapable of any kind of bonding or relatedness at all.
Flat attachers regard other people as utterly interchangeable, replaceable,
and dispensable objects or functions.
When a relationship is over, people go through a period of "latency":
mourning the defunct bond and processing the grief and withdrawal symptoms
associated with a breakup.
Not so the flat attacher: he or she transition instantaneously, smoothly,
abruptly, and seamlessly from one (in)significant other to the next "target" and
fully substitutes a newly found beau, lover, mate, or "intimate" partner for the
discarded one whose usefulness has expired for whatever reason.
Many narcissists and almost all psychopaths are flat attachers. In 1995 I
coined the phrase "idealize, devalue, and discard". I should have rather said:
"idealize, devalue, discard - and replace".
To some people, intimacy is like Kryptonite, both sought after and feared.
The result is an intricate and crazymaking dance dubbed "approach-avoidance
repetition compulsion". Another aspect of this ambivalence in what I call the
"menu-scraps dichotomy". Those who truly seek intimacy want the entire menu of
interpersonal togetherness: from intensive talking to romanticized sex. The
intimacy-challenged make do and are fully satisfied with scraps: they feel
threatened and overwhelmed by the totality of the intimacy menu. They get by on
occasional snippets of talk, rare sex, and swathes of personal space and time
The two types are utterly incompatible and make each other profoundly
unhappy. Yet, oddly, they are inexorably attracted to each other. The menu types
are parental fixers by nature and the scraps persons crave the unbridled and
unconditional intimacy proffered by their antitheses - dread it as they
Mixed couple invariably end up in a mushroom cloud of agonizing mayhem and
unmitigated catastrophe. They may drive each other to insanity and suicide and,
at the very least, subject one another to excruciating pain as the menu tries to
alter and modify the scraps and the scraps withdraws further and farther and
resorts to desperate measures such as cheating or reckless behaviors in order to
undo the bond and revert to pristine loneliness.
When rejected or abused, women overeat or abuse substances. But a minority
of them self-medicate with men: they hookup with friends, former flames, or even
strangers for some good time and sex. It helps them to restore their
self-esteem, regulate or dull their negative emotions, buttress their
femininity, and stabilize their labile sense of self-worth. Intimacy, however
transient and limited, even if merely physical, does wonders to their
assertiveness and resilience. In some cases, such conduct involves defiant, "in
your face", rage infused cheating on the intimate partner.
But such misconduct has three other goals:
1. To hurt, cause excruciating pain, and grievously and often publicly
offend and humiliate the rejecting or abusive counterparty;
2. To elicit a reaction - any reaction! - from the indifferent and
dismissive spouse or mate (via triangulation);
3. To win points in a neverending power play of oneupmanship and
brinkmanship between the misbehaving woman and her husband, date, or
The women who default to this kind of choice are able to engage in
emotionless and casual sex and are often histrionic (the female variant of
psychopathy, according to the latest thinking in the field). They lack impulse
control and suffer from emotional dysregulation (common among Borderlines and
trauma victims with PTSD or extreme CPTSD).